Employment Law - RetaliationEmployees have many rights protected by state law that extend to the workplace. When an employer reacts in a negative manner to the exercising of these rights, then the employee may be able to sue for retaliation. There are three things that someone who believes they were fired out of retaliation needs to prove in order to have a viable case. He or she must have engaged in conduct that is protected under the law, the employer must have taken adverse action against the employee, and there is a clear connection between these two pieces of evidence.
The first step in a retaliation case is proving that the employee's action that they are seeing negative reaction to is a protected right. A few examples of this are: complaining about discrimination in the workplace, taking allowed time off work, or inquiring about missing pay or benefits. This is just a small sample of what is protected under the law, but should act as a good set of examples for what may fall under the umbrella of "protected." Even if the employee is wrong about what they are seeing a negative reaction from, they are protected as long as what they did was performed in good faith. To determine whether or not your actions fall under this umbrella, you should speak with an experienced labor lawyer for advice.
The second component in a retaliation case is the employer taking a negative action against you. This does not always mean getting fired, either. Along with firing an employee out of retaliation, employers cannot harass you, give an unjustified nbegative reference, or dock your pay because of your actions. Generally, if the employer's action would serve as a deterrent for people to assert their rights, it may be considered retaliation. Other actions that can fall under this category include being demoted to a lower position or transferred to an undesirable location.
The final piece of a retaliation case has to show the connection between the employee's action and the employer's reaction. Employers know that retaliation is illegal, and will almost never willingly admit that their action was retaliatory. Time is one of the most important pieces of evidence that can prove this causal connection. It looks a lot more like retaliation if you are fired a few days after the action in question rather than months afterwards. It doesn't always need to be something as strong as a firing either. If the employer shows tangible disapproval of your action within a few days of doing it, then that may help your case if it takes them a while to fully retaliate.
Employees are protected by the law to exercise their legal rights. When an employer responds in a negative manner to these lawful rights, the employee may be able to take legal action based on retaliation. Each case can only be determined on an individual basis, so seek out the advice of an experienced employment attorney if you believe you have been retaliated against.